The Cherry Orchard

How this Fast Diet Lifestyle works: Eat these meals tomorrow, for a calorie total of less than 600. On another day this week, eat the meals from a different post, another day of eating 600 calories or less. Eat sensibly the other days of the week. That’s it. Simple way to lose weight and be healthier.

The Cherry Orchard, the last play by Anton Chekhov, had its debut in 1904 on his birthday January 17. He called the play a comedy, viewers often see it as a drama, but in its heart it is an allegory of the times in which he lived. In brief, the play centers around a land-owning lady who returns to her childhood home. There she had lived with her husband, raised their children, and suffered the death of her husband and son. Due to her inability to manage money, she and her family are on the edge of bankruptcy. A solution might be to cut down the family’s large cherry orchard and sell off lots for summer cottages, but the family will not hear of it. By the end of the play, the land has been sold, the family leaves their home forever, and the cherry trees are being cut down as the curtain falls. Why a play about this silly woman and her trees? The story takes place in post-feudal Russia. The serfs have been freed and can become upwardly mobile — like the business man who buys the land. In pre-Revolution Russia, there was a clash of old ideas [privileged aristocrats exiting Stage Left] and new ideas about individual rights [enter Marx and Lenin Stage Right]. The orchard represents class differences: for the serfs it means hours of labor to prune the trees, to harvest and process the fruit; for the upper-class it is a lovely place to picnic and enjoy because of the work of others. The orchard represents a land-based, old-world economy, cutting it down paves the way for modern ‘Western’ ways of life. The audience got the point and the play has been popular with audiences ever since.

Our meals today are typically Russian, and yes, there are cherries. Blinis lead the way in Act I. And a very typical cabbage soup for the serfs stars in Act II. For everyone, a recipe for Russian-style tea — not the ersatz version from the 1960s, but the genuine article.

Buckwheat Blini Breakfast: 213 calories 5 g fat 3 g fiber 9 g protein 31 g carbs 67.6 mg Calcium NB: The food values shown are for the plated items only, not for the optional beverages. Blini are associated with Russia and caviar. Here they appear in more humble company at breakfast. Sour Cherry Syrup  is just the thing to top them, though cherry jelly thinned with water would be good too. Russians would serve this with strong black tea, sweetened with honey, and garnished with a slice of lemon, called Zavarka.

2 buckwheat blini** 1 oz ham 1 Tbsp/ ½ fl oz Sour Cherry Syrup Optional: blackish coffee [53 calories] or black tea with honey + lemon or mocha cafe au lait [65 calories] or Zavarka++ [21-64 calories]

If previously-made, warm the blini and roll them. Warm and roll the ham, too. Plate them all and lash with the syrup. A simple and tasty meal.

**BUCKWHEAT BLINI:  one batch yields 16 six-inch pancakes, ~1 oz each each = 72 calories 2 g fat 1.6 g fiber 2 g protein 10 g carbs 30 mg Calcium 

1¼ c skim milk ½ c all-purpose flour ½ c white whole wheat flour ½ c buckwheat flour ¾ tsp dry yeast 1 tsp salt 2 two-oz eggs 2 Tbsp butter 3-4 Tbsp water

Heat the milk until warm to the touch. Whisk together the flours, yeast, and salt. Melt butter and let cool a bit. Mix with the warm milk, then whisk in the eggs. Combine wet and dry ingredients until no lumps remain. Let rest 90 minutes on the counter or 12 hrs in a cool place. After the resting, stir the batter and heat a well-seasoned or non-stick skillet. Spritz with non-stick spray, then wipe with a bit of paper towel. To make 6” diameter blini, I used a 3 Tbsp scoop. The batter is thicker than crepe-batter, but thinner than most pancake-batter. It begins to cook as soon as it hits the pan, so tip/rotate the pan with one hand as you add batter with the other. Then use a scraper to nudge the batter over the edges. Cook on one side, as holes form on the top. Then turn and cook on the other side.  TIP: they freeze well

++Russian Tea, Zavarka: with 1 tsp honey = 21 calories 0g fat, fiber, protein 5.5 g carbs 0.3 mg Calcium with 1 Tbsp honey = 64 calories 0g fat, fiber, protein 16.5 g carbs 1 mg Calcium

1-2 cups of teaRecipe from  Peter Kolesnichenko
4-5 heaping tsp loose leaf tea1 cup boiling hot water Put tea into a small tea pot and add water. Let steep 10+ mins, ensuring all tea leaves have sunk to the bottom.
boiling water for tea = kipyatok (кипяток)Pour some tea concentrate into a cup, then fill the cup with boiling water. Adjust amounts, depending on your preferrence.
1-2 tsp honey per cup lemon slice per cupAdd honey and a lemon slice. Keep topping up zavarka with hot water and enjoy drinking real Russian Tea.

Shchi – Russian Cabbage Soup: 280 calories 4 g fat 4.6 g fiber 8 g protein 45 g carbs 37.5 mg Calcium  PB GF- if using GF bread or omitting. This hearty soup can be made with beef and beef stock or with chicken stock or vegetable stock. For Russians, it is the taste of Rodina, the Mother Land.  HINT: This recipe makes enough for four [4] servings.  Recipe author Julia Frey says that this soup ‘will give you the energy you need in the dead of winter.’ [ the name of the soup is pronounced like the word ‘she.’]

4-5 one cup servings
½ of an onion  1 carrot 
1 bay leaf 3-4 whole peppercorns a pinch of salt
1 L./4 c chicken stock
Cut carrot in 3-4 pieces. Combine all the ingredients for the broth and cook 1½ hrsIf using beef: add 1/3 pound stew beef and water. After cooking, remove beef with a slotted spoon and set aside.  Strain broth through a fine sieve to clear it. Discard vegetables and spices. OR use 1 qts quality Brown Stock or Chicken Stock. I used chicken stock, simmered for 30 mins with these ingredients to give the stock a richer flavor. I did not add meat.
7 oz potatoPeel potato, cut in 1/2″ chunks. In a soup pot, put broth, beef and potatoes and bring to a boil.
3/4 cup shredded carrot ½ cup onion 1½ tsp butterShred the carrot and chop the onion.
Saute carrots and onions with butter over low heat until tender and the onions translucent, ~10 mins.
1 cup cabbage, chopped When soup boils, add cabbage and vegetables, [and beef if using] cook  5 mins and turn heat off. Do not to overcook the vegetables! 
2 Tbsp parsley, fresh 1 tsp dill, dried salt and pepper Chop parsley. Add herbs, salt, and pepper to taste. 
As always, soup tastes better if you prepare it ahead of time and let it sit for a few hours or overnight.
2 tsp whipped cream cheese
1 oz sourdough rye bread
Serve each bowl with a dollop of cream and the optional bread.

Dwellings: the Saltbox

How this Fast Diet Lifestyle works: Eat these meals tomorrow, for a calorie total of less than 600. On another day this week, eat the meals from a different post, another day of eating 600 calories or less. Eat sensibly the other days of the week. That’s it. Simple way to lose weight and be healthier.

When Europeans arrived in New England in the 1600s, at first they lived in whatever shelter they could devise. As they had the means to plan their living spaces, they invented a new style of architecture: the Saltbox House. First seen around 1650, the house is named for its distinctive roof-line, which looks like a box that was always nailed to the wall near the fireplace. It held salt and had a sloping lid that could flip up when the cook reached in for a pinch of seasoning. A short description: the house has a center chimney and a 2-story facade, flat or garrison. The roof rises from there to a ridge, then swoops down to a 1-story height in the back. The advantages are several: the South-facing facade takes advantage of light and sun’s heat in the Winter [early passive-solar heating]; the North-facing, windowless back roof shields the house from winter winds and sheds snow; the 2-story parts of the house are roomy enough for a large family; the 1-story back of the house works for pantry and kitchen. Built with post-and-beam construction, the house was fairly easy to assemble, all without costly nails. Dear Husband and I love the iconic look of this style so much that we build one for our own home. It is odd that the style did not catch on in other areas, perhaps because by the Revolution [1770a] the style was considered old fashioned. It may be old-style, but that is why we love it.

Salt was an important commodity in early America, most importantly for preserving food by salting or brining. The ingredients of our foods today use ingredients that require salting: salt cod and ham, both of which would have been in the larder of a 17th century Saltbox house-wife.

Brandade Bake: 145 calories 8.5 g fat 1 g fiber 11 g protein 4.3 g carbs [2.8 g Complex] 45 mg Calcium  NB: The food values shown are for the egg bake and the fruit, not for the optional beverages.  PB GF  Salt cod was common in New England. In Southern France it is turned into brandade which is worth trying. Here it is at breakfast, all creamy and garlicy.

1 two-oz egg ½ Tbsp cottage cheese 1 Tbsp brandade    shake of granulated garlic 2 oz melon OR 1 oz peach slices + ½ oz blueberries   Optional: blackish coffee [53 calories] or blackish tea or mocha cafe au lait [65 calories] or lemon in hot water  Optional: 5-6 oz fruit smoothie or berry-yogurt smoothie  [88 calories]

Cream together the cottage cheese, brandade, and garlic. Whisk in the egg. Bake in a lightly-spritzed ramekin at 350 F. until cooked through, about 12-15 minutes. With the fruit and beverages, you have a fine start to the day.

Ham & Oyster Pie: 256 calories 4.6 g fat 3 g fiber 21 g protein 25.5 g carbs 125 mg Calcium   PB GF — if using GF bread  This dish was popular in the tidewater American Colonies in the winter. I first enjoyed it in the Fox Tavern of the Hancock Inn. As long as oysters are available, one can have it anytime. HINT: This recipe serves 2 [two].

A casserole to serve two people

3 oz [2/3 cup] roast ham in ½” dice 1 cup oysters with their liquid, about 19 ½ cup onions, chopped ¼ cup milk 2 Tbsp white wine 2 tsp potato starch ½ cup peas, frozen one slice of 70-calorie whole-grain bread

Using a small star-shaped cookie cutter, cut 4 little stars from the single slice of bread. Toast lightly. Drain oysters and reserve their liquid. Combine onion and oyster liquid in a small pan. Simmer, covered, until onions are transluscent. Stir wine, milk, and potato starch into the liquid until it is smooth. Add oysters and ham. Stir and heat over low until sauce has thickened. Add peas, stir, and turn into a two-cup casserole. Bake uncovered at 400 F. for 15 minutes. Before serving, nestle the stars into the bubbling sauce.

ngredients for next week: Breakfast, single portion for Monday …………………………… single portion for Thursday:

2 buckwheat blini = buckwheat flour1.5 two-oz eggs 
+ all-purpose flour + eggsbleu cheese
+dry yeast + white whole wheat flourfat-free cottage cheese
butter + milkunsweetened applesauce
3%-fat ham + sour cherry syrupoptional smoothie
optional hot beverageoptional hot beverage

Dinner, single portion for Monday:………………………….. single portion for Thursday:

chicken stock + potato + dill weedcubes of lamb leg meat + red bell pepper
cabbage + carrot + onionzucchini + red onion + granulated garlic
butter + parsley + sauerkrautrosemary + tomato juice, optional
whipped cream cheese + dark rye breadcorn-tomato salsa
Sparkling waterSparkling water

The Rubicon

How this Fast Diet Lifestyle works: Eat these meals tomorrow, for a calorie total of less than 600. On another day this week, eat the meals from a different post, another day of eating 600 calories or less. Eat sensibly the other days of the week. That’s it. Simple way to lose weight and be healthier. Welcome to leaneatinghacks who is now Following.

On January 10, 49 BCE, Julius Caesar had a decision to make. He had conquered Gaul, extending the Roman territory into modern France. This established him as an army general of note and a force to be reckoned with. Now it was time to return to Rome. He wanted to be hailed as a victorious general, heaped with praise and honor. But the Roman Senate was filled with his political enemies — instead of congratulations, they wanted to punish and exile him. Caesar and his legion were camped just north of a tiny river called the Rubicon. It marked the northern limit of the Roman Republic. To cross it with an army would be an act of war against the Republic. For Caesar, to cross it without an army would mean arrest and political defeat. He considered his options. It would be a gamble… Caesar is believed to have quoted a line from his favorite Greek playwright, saying: “Alea iacta est.” [in English, “Let the die be cast.”] He crossed the Rubicon.

Are you at a cross-roads about your health? Do you have a decision to make? Is your weight a concern? Or your cholesterol count? Are you concerned about being pre-diabetic? The choice is to do nothing [and risk serious health consequences] or to try 5:2 Fasting, which you are sure would be difficult for you. So try this: treat yourself to one Fast-style dinner this week and see how you like it. The recipe below is easy to prepare and puts a goodly portion of food on your plate. Go ahead, try it. Don’t have any pork? No problem! Substitute 6 oz of shrimp [making a two-person amount] in the same recipe. Cast the dice and be a winner.

Pork Noodle Quick-fry: 262 calories 8.5 g fat 5 g fiber 34 g protein 32 g carb 73.5 mg Calcium  PB Found on the back of a bag of soba noodles, this recipe is quick and easy and good to eat.  HINT: this is enough for TWO. Instead of soba noodles, you can use udon noodles.

2 oz Soba or Udon noodles 
1 qt water
Heat water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook 4 minutes. Drain, rinse, and cool.
3 oz cabbage OR 1 c snow peas
2 oz onion
1 cup [4 oz] carrot 
3 oz broccoli
Shred the cabbage and the carrot.
Slice the onion and chop the broccoli.
If using snow peas, remove the strings and leave whole.
1 tsp sesame oil cooking sprayHeat a heavy frying pan or wok. Add oil and heat it, then spray with cooking oil. Add vegetables and stir-fry 3 minutes.
5 oz roasted pork tenderloin  HINT: use pork which was cooked previouslySlice pork into ½” rounds, then slice cross-wise into sticks. Add 2-3 Tbsp water to the wok along with meat. Stir-fry 1 minute
2 oz scallions
1 Tbsp soy sauce
Slice scallions diagonally. Add to wok with soy sauce and cook until everything is hot.

Alfred Wegener’s Big Idea

How this Fast Diet  Lifestyle works: Eat these meals tomorrow, for a calorie total of less than 600. On another day this week, eat the meals from a different post, another day of eating 600 calories or less. Eat sensibly the other days of the week. That’s it. Simple way to lose weight and be healthier.

Alfred Wegener, born 1880 in Berlin, Germany, was trained as an astronomer but became a meteorologist instead. He pioneered research with weather balloons and studied climate in the arctic. While looking at atlases, Wegener was struck by the way South America and Africa looked like two puzzle pieces which should fit together. This made him think that the land masses had once been parts of one large continent, which he called ‘Pangaea‘ or ‘all-land,’ and that since then the continents had moved apart. Alfred began to look for proof that this was so. His research showed that plants, such as the extinct land plant ‘Glossopteris,’ and the same reptile fossils are found on several continents. He found that there are mountain chains in North America that match up with those in Scotland. This line of thinking caused Wegener to present his Theory of Continental Drift on January 6, 1912. He explained the ability of the continents to move by giving the analogy of steamer trunks being pushed across a smooth floor. [In those days, it was believed that the sea floor was flat and smooth.] Wegener thought that the continents were not attached to the seafloor substrate and could slide or drift on top of it. But when asked by fellow scientists how and why the continents moved, Wegener had no explanation. A book in 1915 fleshed out his theory, and the author republished it several times until 1929, adding new evidence. Wegener was correct: the continents were once together, the most recent being 230 million years ago. Many times before, there was a supercontinent. Wegener was also incorrect: not only do the continents move, the sea floors move too, propelled by molten currents under the Earth’s crust. Geologists did not accept his theory and it was relegated to the scrap-heap of under-proven ideas. He died in Greenland, on an expedition, on his 50th birthday.

After you have cooked the ScrOmelette, cut it into two pieces, making the cut jagged instead of straight. This makes two ‘puzzle pieces.’ which is what lead Wegener to his idea of the continents fitting together. The roasting vegetables can slide back and forth on the baking sheet, just as Wegener thought that the continents could slide over the sea floor.

Leek & Tomato ScrOmelette:  153 calories 7.4 g fat 3 g fiber 10.4 g protein 12 g carbs 73 mg Calcium  NB: Food values shown are for the ScrOmelette and fruit only, and do not include the optional beveragesPB GF  Eggs taste great — leeks and tomatoes always make them even better.

1½ eggs HINT: If you are serving one person, crack three 2-oz eggs into a small bowl or glass measuring cup. Whip up those eggs and pour half of their volume, into a jar with a lid and put it in the ‘fridge for next week.  1 oz tomato 2 pinches basil 0.35 oz leeks, sliced and cooked  pinch garlic powder 1 clementine OR 2 oz apple  Optional: blackish coffee [53 calories] or blackish tea or mocha cafe au lait [65 calories] or lemon in hot water  Optional: 5 oz fruit smoothie or berry-yogurt smoothie  [88 calories]

Dice the tomatoes and put them in a pan which has been spritzed with non-stick spray. Add salt and the basil, and cook until warm. Add the cooked leeks along with the garlic powder. Whisk the eggs and pour over the vegetables in the pan. Cook to your liking: as a scramble or as an omelette. Plate with the fruit, serve the beverages of your choice, and enjoy a fine day.

Turkey w/ Roasted Delicata and Sweet Potato: 294 calories 4 g fat 7 g fiber 13 g protein 36 g carbs 85,5 mg Calcium  PB GF Anna Stockwell from Epicurious came up with this recipe and am I glad. Here is a simple sheet-pan meal topped with a delicious agrodolce sauce.  HINT: This recipe serves two [2] people. As attractive as it is delicious.

Sv 2Preheat oven to 425°F. 
12 oz delicata squash 10 oz sweet potatoes
1½ tsp EVOO
Slice unpeeled squash into ¾” thick rounds, and remove seeds. Peel + slice sweet potatoes in ¾” rounds. Toss vegetables and oil in a bowl.
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
½ tsp salt
Add pepper flakes and salt, and toss to combine.
3 thyme sprigsArrange vegetables lat on a large cast iron skillet with thyme on top. Roast 30 mins.
4 oz turkey breast, sliced ½” thick
cooking spray
Lightly salt both sides of turkey. Take skillet from oven, spray veggies with oil, and turn them over. Put turkey on top of vegetables, and return to oven for 10 mins.
1½ Tbsp agrodolce** per person Plate vegetables, place the meat on top,+ dollop agrodolce over all. 
CRANBERRY AGRODOLCEMakes = 6 TBSP = 4 SV
2 oz cranberries
¼ c red wine vinegar 2 oz sugar 
1 sprig thyme
Cook these in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until cranberries are soft and sauce is thick and syrupy, ~35 mins.

Ingredients for next week: Breakfast, single portion for Monday …………………………. single portion for Thursday:

cottage cheese
brandade + one 2-oz egg
Find a new favorite breakfast in Archivesgranulated garlic
melon
Optional smoothieoptional smoothie
optional hot beverageoptional hot beverage

Dinner, single portion for Monday:………………………….. single portion for Thursday:

soba or udon noodles + onionham + 1 cup oysters and their liquid
soy sauce + cabbagemilk + peas
sesame oil + carrot + scallionpotato starch + white wine
broccoli + roasted pork tenderloin70-calorie bread
Sparkling waterSparkling water

Perihelion  

How this Fast Diet Lifestyle works: Eat these meals tomorrow, for a calorie total of less than 600. On another day this week, eat the meals from a different post, another day of eating 600 calories or less. Eat sensibly the other days of the week. That’s it. Simple way to lose weight and be healthier. Welcome to okhueleigbematilda who is now Following.

The Earth orbits the Sun. This scientific theory, first proved by Copernicus in 1543, has been a fact since it was confirmed by Galileo in 1610. Since the time of Aristotle, it was thought that the shape of any orbit was a perfect circle because circles-are-a-perfect-shape-and-nature-is-perfect. This mantra was practically holy writ for almost 2000 years. Then in 1609, Kepler demonstrated that all the planets orbit the sun in orbits that are elliptical in shape. Society likes things to be set in stone, but Science keeps an open mind and changes its mind when new facts come along. And so we know that the Earth orbits the Sun in an oval orbit. On January 3rd, the Earth is at Perihelion — from the latin for ” the closest point in its orbit to the Sun.” This always came as a surprise to my Earth Science students, who thought that Summer was when the Earth was closer to the Sun and therefore hotter. Nope. At an average of 93 million miles from our star, the small distance change due to our elliptical orbit makes no difference in the Earth’s temperature. We seem to be taking care of that ourselves. And we each need to work harder at not making the Earth any warmer.

Our meals come from warmer climates just for the fun of it, not because a position at Perihelion causes the Earth to be warmer.

Goan Shrimp Bake: 126 calories 5.5 g fat 1 g fiber 12.6 g protein 6.6 g carbs 50 mg Calcium  NB: The food values given above are for the egg bake and fruit only, not the optional beverages.  PB GF  A breakfast with the flavors of Goa. Dear Husband is a big fan.

One 2-oz egg ¼ cup water 1½ tsp tomato paste ¼ tsp chili powder ¼ tsp turmeric powder 0.9 oz shrimp, cut in roughly ¼” slices 1 Tbsp scallion, chopped ¼ c cilantro, chopped 1 oz mango or 2 oz strawberries   Optional: blackish coffee [53 calories] or blackish tea or mocha cafe au lait [65 calories] or lemon in hot water   Optional: 5-6 oz fruit smoothie or berry-yogurt smoothie [88 calories]

Thaw and peel the shrimp, and cut into roughly ¼” slices. Put the water, tomato paste and spices into a small pan. Simmer until the liquid is hot and thicker. Turn heat way down and add the shrimp. Cook until it is opaque, then take off the heat and add the cilantro and scallion. HINT: I did this the night before.  Scrape the shrimp mixture into a baking dish. Whisk the egg and pour into the baking dish. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until the eggs are set and there is no liquid when you cut into it. Plate with the fruit and wow! Such a delicious breakfast.

Taiwanese-Style Seafood Pancakes: each serving: 298 calories 11 g fat 1.6 g fiber 20 g protein 21.5 g carbs 141 mg Calcium  PB This recipe is taken from Wok On by Ching He Huang  HINT: This is enough for two [2] dinner pancakes. Invite a fellow Faster or cut recipe in half.  Note to purists: the original recipe does not call for wheat flour, let alone whole wheat flour. But I am into nutrition and insist that there be some fiber and complex carbs in my food, hence the heretical addition.

2 Tbsp of hoisin sauce
2 Tbsp of oyster sauce
2 Tbsp red sriracha
Combine the ingredients for a sweet-hot sauce. = 6 Tbsp1½ Tbsp = 20 calories 0.3 g fat 0.2 g fiber 0.3 g protein 4.5 g carbs 5.5 mg Calcium 
1/3c/ 20g potato flour or flakes  ¼c/ 30g white whole wheat flour 2 Tbsp/ 14g cornstarch  180ml/ 6oz/180g cold water Mix the dry ingredients with the water and stir to combine. Let sit to wet the ingredients, then stir again, adding more water if batter is too stiff. Batter should have the consistancy of milk so it will flow well in the pan. Divide the batter into 2 equal portions
2 spring onions
½ tsp crushed red pepper
Cut scallions into a fine dice.Add cut scallions and crushed pepper to the portions of batter above. Stir.
75g/ 2oz mixed seafood: mussels/shrimp/fish/squid  Cut the seafood into pieces less than ½” in size. Divide the combination into 2 equal portions
2 eggs
50g/ 2oz pak choi 
Beat eggs to break them up. Slice pak choi thinly across the leaves. Divide eggs and greens equally between 2 bowls.
½ tsp light sesame oil cooking oil spray
one portion of seafood mixture one portion of batter one portion egg-greens mixture
Heat a flat-bottomed wok or heavy saute pan over medium heat. Add oil, swirl it around to distribute, then spray with cooking oil. Add mixed seafood and fry for a few seconds.  Add the flour batter, and tip pan to distribute. Immediately add the egg-greens. Cook 60 secs until starting to brown, flip and cook on the other side until starting to brown. Put on a plate and cover with a tea towel.
½ tsp light sesame oil
cooking oil spray
one portion of seafood mixture
one portion of batter
one portion egg-greens mixture
Make the second ‘pancake’ in the same way, using the remaining ingredients. 



drizzle with 1½ Tbsp hot sauce per serving

Kwanzaa

How this Fast Diet Lifestyle works: Eat these meals tomorrow, for a calorie total of less than 600. On another day this week, eat the meals from a different post, another day of eating 600 calories or less. Eat sensibly the other days of the week. That’s it. Simple way to lose weight and be healthier. 

Kwanzaa was developed in 1966 as a response to the Watts Riots of 1965. Professor Maulana Karenga, chair of Africana Studies at California State University, was distressed at the lack of unity among Black Americans and their estrangement from their African roots. After much research into the festivals of Zulu and Ashanti people, he proposed a new holiday: Kwanzaa, to run from December 26 to January 1. Each day features the lighting of a candle and a family discussions of certain principles, along with singing, dancing, and eating culturally-based foods. The seven principles are: Unity; Self-determination; Collective work and responsibility; Cooperative economics; Purpose; Creativity; and Faith. These are excellent values that we all can espouse. Kwanzaa has been embraced by people around the world, not just in the USA. Tomorrow will be Day 5 of Kwanzaa, a day of Purpose. Find a new purpose for your life, whether it is volunteering in your community or being purposeful about your health choices. Happy Kwanzaa to all those who celebrate.

Here I offer two breakfasts for Kwanzaa, from Northern Africa and from Southern Africa. Muhindi [corn] is one of the major symbols of Kwanzaa, so it is fitting to eat it in the Mealie Bread. Your family probably has its own favorite dinner menus, from Hoppin’ John to Cajun Catfish. It is all about family and the foods you share.

Moroccan Omelette: 135 calories 8 g fat 1.4 g fiber 10 g protein 7.7 g carbs 49 mg Calcium  NB: Food values shown are for the ScrOmelette and fruit only, and do not include the optional beveragesPB GF  Suggested by our First-born, this is the easiest breakfast to prepare. For the compete flavor profile, serve with mint tea as they do in Morocco.

1½ eggs HINT: If you are serving one person, crack three 2-oz eggs into a small bowl or glass measuring cup. Whip up those eggs and pour half of their volume, into a jar with a lid and put it in the ‘fridge for next week.  1 tsp or more ground cumin ½ tsp or more paprika salt + pepper 1/2 clementine OR 5 Bing cherries   Optional: blackish coffee [53 calories] or MINT TEA or mocha cafe au lait [65 calories] or lemon in hot water  Optional: 5 oz fruit smoothie or berry-yogurt smoothie  [88 calories]

Combine the cumin, paprika, salt, and pepper in a small dish. Whisk just the eggs vigorously. Pour into a heated skillet sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Turn down the heat. Sprinkle the eggs with the seasonings and leave undisturbed until puffy and the top is set. Remove from skillet, and serve folded or flat. Pour the beverages and enjoy the fruit as a counter-point to the spices.

Mealie Bread Breakfast: 190 calories 2.5 g fat 3 g fiber 13.4 g protein 25.4 g carbs 73 mg Calcium  PB GF – if using GF flour in mealie bread  Mealie bread is a staple in southern Africa. It is simple to prepare and you will like it. Here it makes a fine breakfast as one of four typically African foods and flavors: 1] mealie bread 2] watermelon [originally from Egypt] 3] coffee 4] chicken [several native species].

3 Mealie Breads** 4 oz watermelon 1½ oz chicken breast meat, cooked   Optional: blackish coffee [53 calories] or blackish tea or mocha cafe au lait [65 calories]

**Mealie Breads: makes 24 pieces using a 1½ Tbsp scoop 1 piece = 73 calories 0.5 g fat 1 g fiber 1 g protein 5.6 g carbs 20 mg Calcium I cooked the batter as patties, scooped onto a griddle. Fine flavor at breakfast or dinner.

¼ c milk 2 Tbsp melted butter 1 two-oz egg ½ c white whole wheat flour ½ c cornmeal 1 Tbsp sugar 1 tsp baking powder ½ tsp salt ½ tsp paprika 1 cup cooked corn kernels

Combine all the ingredients to form a moist, fairly thick batter. If too dry, add a little milk or water. If too wet, add a little flour. Heat a griddle to medium high and spritz with non-stick spray. Scoop batter onto it, then flatten out to make 3” patties. Turn when the bottom is set and a little brown, then cook the other side. When cool, they freeze well.

Prepare and cook the mealie bread or warm from the freezer. Cut chicken into strips and watermelon into chunks. Plate and enjoy with another African flavor: coffee.

Ingredients for next week: Breakfast, single portion for Monday …………………………… single portion for Thursday:

1 two-oz egg + raw shrimp1.5 two-oz eggs 
tomato paste + chili powderleek + fresh tomato
turmeric + cilantro leavesgarlic powder + basil
scallion + strawberries or mangoclementine or apple
Optional smoothieoptional smoothie
optional hot beverageoptional hot beverage

Dinner, single portion for Monday:………………………….. single portion for Thursday:

cornstarch + potato flakes + 2-oz eggdelicata squash + sweet potato
white whole wheat flour + red chiliolive oil + raw turkey breast + thyme sprigs
mixed seafood + canola oil + oyster saucered pepper flakes + sugar
pak choi or swiss chard + srirachacranberries + red wine vinegar
Sparkling waterSparkling water

Marlene Dietrich

How this Fast Diet Lifestyle works: Eat these meals tomorrow, for a calorie total of less than 600. On another day this week, eat the meals from a different post, another day of eating 600 calories or less. Eat sensibly the other days of the week. That’s it. Simple way to lose weight and be healthier.

Marlene Dietrich was born as Maria Magdelena Dietrich on 27 December, 1901. Her father died when she was 10, her step-father died in WWI. Initially, she trained as a musician, mastering violin and piano, but then she turned to the cabaret scene of Germany in the 1920s — think ‘Sally Bowles’ of Cabaret. She sang and danced, to the disapproval of her family, prompting her to change her name to Marlene — a mash-up of her first and middle names. A few minor film roles followed, with her big break in Der Blaue Engle in 1930, playing a cabaret singer [watch the trailer!]. Hollywood called, and although she was successful and famous, she was always cast as a sultry prostitute. Her persona was that of a femme fatale, often dressed in men’s clothing, and she was considered the sexiest woman of the 1930s. To break from her stereotypical casting, she showed her comedic chops in Destry Rides Again, 1939. During the 2nd World War, Dietrich was active for the Allied war effort, entertaining troupes [playing the musical saw] and volunteering at the Hollywood USO. She was decorated by both the US and France for her work. After the war, she turned to a singing career and performed at clubs worldwide. Breaking one of her famous legs caused her to be bed-bound in her Paris apartment for the last 13 years of her life. From there, she chatted with world leaders by phone, lobbying for her favorite causes. She was a woman of many parts.

Our meals are typically German. They are different from the norm and that catches your senses in an intriguing way — rather like Marlene Dietrich as an actress. Dietrich enjoyed house-wifely tasks and one might imagine that she cooked these meals.

Fruited Toast with Sausage:  225 calories 11.5 g fat 2.5 g 10.4 g protein 20 g carbs 39 mg Calcium  PB GF – if using GF bread  Another fine Frühstück [breakfast] from Germany. Delicious.

1 slice 70-calorie whole-grain bread [we like Dave’s ‘Good Seed‘ ] 1½ oz Bockwurst 2 Tbsp small-curd cottage cheese, reduced fat ¼ c mixed berries or sliced strawberries    Optional: blackish coffee [53 calories] or blackish tea or mocha cafe au lait [85 calories]   or lemon in hot water

If fruit is frozen, thaw in a sieve overnight. Slice sausage and braise or bake to cook thoroughly. Toast bread lightly and spread with cheese. Pile the fruit on the bread and plate with the hot sausage.

Senfeier (Eggs in Mustard Sauce): 323 calories 15.5 g fat 2 g fat 17 g protein 12 g carbs 158 mg Calcium   PB GF – if using GF flour in the sauce + GF bread or omitting   This recipe represents ‘comfort food’ in Germany: simply, homey, the sort of meal your Grossmutti would serve you for lunch or supper.  TIP: prepare the bechamel before-hand [handy to have in freezer] and boil the eggs the day before. Very easy to prepare, this is a meal for a busy day.  HINT: This recipe serves two [2] people. 

4 hard-boiled eggs ½ c Bechamel sauce, no cheese  1 Tbsp grainy mustard 2 fl oz/¼ c white wine ¾ c frozen, chopped spinach nutmeg 1 oz sour-dough rye bread [optional: omit to lose 35 calories]

Combine the bechamel, mustard and wine in a saute pan and warm them gently, stirring to combine. In a separate covered pan, warm the spinach with a little water and many pinches of nutmeg. Peel and halve the eggs and put them in the sauce, cut-side up. Cover and keep over low until eggs and sauce are warm. Warm the optional bread. Either plate the spinach along side of the eggs, or under the eggs, or combine the spinach with the sauce. Delicious any way you plate it, with or without the bread.

Little Christmas Eve

How this Fast Diet Lifestyle works: Eat these meals tomorrow, for a calorie total of less than 600. On another day this week, eat the meals from a different post, another day of eating 600 calories or less. Eat sensibly the other days of the week. That’s it. Simple way to lose weight and be healthier.

December 23 is crunch time. House guests are being welcomed, festive foods are being prepared, gifts have to be wrapped, and the air is electric with busyness and expectation. In some parts of Scandinavia it is called Little Christmas Eve. It is a day to wind up all the activities and then to catch your breath. Meals are simple, made more so by a large pot of soup simmering on the stove. What, you’re hungry? Help yourself to soup for lunch and dinner, the cook is off duty for meal-preparation. In our family, most everything is done by then and we can relax in the evening and enjoy each other’s company. Play games, or watch a holiday movie, or read from A Christmas Carol, by Dickens. It might be the Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year, so plan to be relaxing at home with a comforting bowl of soup. That’s what Little Christmas Eve is all about.

An easy breakfast to remind us of the Solstice, and then a simple soup for supper. Perfect for late December in the Northern Hemisphere.

Winter Solstice Scramble: 152 calories 8.5 g fat 1 g fiber 10.4 g protein 7.5 g carbs 45.4 mg Calcium NB: Food values shown are for the ScrOmelette and fruit only, and do not include the optional beveragesPB GF  There is a classic pizza called “Four Seasons.” In each quadrant of the pizza is a vegetable or meat which represents one of the seasons. We take this idea to breakfast for the Solstice: cured olives represent the departing Autumn, while cured meat stands in for the arriving Winter

1½ two-oz eggs HINT: If you are serving one person, crack three 2-oz eggs into a small bowl or glass measuring cup. Whip up those eggs and pour half of their volume into a jar with a lid and put it in the ‘fridge for next week.  1 slice pepperoni [ 2” diameter], chopped 1 Kalamata olive, chopped large pinch of Winter Savory + salt + pepper 2 oz pear  Optional: blackish coffee [53 calories] or blackish tea or mocha cafe au lait or lemon in hot water   Optional: 5-6 oz fruit smoothie or berry-yogurt smoothie [88 calories]

Whisk the chopped meat, olive, and seasonings with the eggs. Pour into into a lightly-spritzed non-stick saute pan and scramble to your liking. Plate with the pear and pour the beverages. You now have a meal prepared in a short time to usher in the shortest day of the year.

Baked Bean Soup: 285 calories 3.5 g fat 8 g fiber 11.4 g protein 32 g carbs 83.4 mg Calcium PB GF  This classic is from Fannie Farmer cookbook and it sure hits the spot. Super easy to prepare. OK, the carb count is high, but look how low the fat is! And baked beans are goodfor you!  HINT: Serve 2 [two].

1 cup baked beans, canned 1/8” slice onion, chopped 1 stalk celery, chopped ¾ cup canned or stewed tomatoes 1½ cup brown stock/beef stock dash hot sauce salt & pepper  optional garnish: ½ hard boiled egg, sliced optional garnish: sliced scallion + diced tomato   optional garnish: lemon slices

Simmer beans, onion, celery, and tomatoes in a covered pan for 30 minutes or until celery is soft. Add brown stock, hot sauce, salt, and pepper and heat through. Run it all through the blender or food processer. Serve with a garnish of your choice. Fast, easy, inexpensive, good.

Ingredients for next week: Breakfast, single portion for Monday …………………………… single portion for Thursday:

70-calorie whole-grain bread1.5 two-oz eggs 
mixed berriesground cumin
cottage cheese, lower-fatpaprika
bockwurstclementine or apple or cherries
optional smoothie
optional hot beverageoptional hot beverage

Dinner, single portion for Monday:………………………….. BREAKFAST single portion for Thursday:

2-4 hard-boiled eggs + grainy mustardMealie Breads
= corn kernels
bechamel sauce, no cheesecornmeal + white whole wheat flour + egg
frozen chopped spinach + white winemilk + sugar + paprika + butter
nutmeg + optional sour-dough rye breadwatermelon + chicken breast
Sparkling waterSparkling water

A Wonderful Life

How this Fast Diet Lifestyle works: Eat these meals tomorrow, for a calorie total of less than 600. On another day this week, eat the meals from a different post, another day of eating 600 calories or less. Eat sensibly the other days of the week. That’s it. Simple way to lose weight and be healthier.

After the end of World War II, the Hollywood people who had gone to war came home. One was Jimmy Stewart who was looking to revive his stalled acting career. He had entered the war as a Private who had an amateur pilot’s license, and was demobbed as a full Colonel with 20 combat missions over Germany to his credit. Another was Frank Capra, who had left off directing for major films to make ‘propaganda’ films for the US Signal Corps during the war. With 5 Academy Awards for prior films, it should have been easy for him to fit back into the industry. Capra hired Stewart to star in Its a Wonderful Life, released in 1946, on December 20. Like Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, also starring Stewart, this movie is about the virtues of small town life; the necessity for people to work together for the common good; the hard-working refugee families moving to America; and the importance of faith in higher ideals. As Roger Ebert said, the film is “a celebration of the lives and dreams of America’s ordinary citizens, who tried the best they could to do the right thing by themselves and their neighbors.” It was not a success. Maybe 1946 was not the time for a sentimental film. The movie was ‘rediscovered’ in the 1970s when the copywrite expired. Aired on TV, the film quickly became a seasonal Christmas favorite. It is sweet, and corny, and makes you feel good about doing the right thing. Watch it and celebrate the film’s 75th anniversary.

Frank Capra was a fierce defender of the American Dream. Our hash ‘n’ eggs breakfast is typical of the small-town diner menu. Since Capra was the son of immigrants, our dinner features Mediterranean flavors well known to the other travelers in steerage when his family came to America in 1903.

Sweet Potato-Black Bean Hash 212 calories 4.5 g fat 9 g fiber  31 g carbs 96.5 mg Calcium  NB: The food values given above are for the egg and hash only, not the optional hot beverage. PB GF Long-time friend and fellow bell ringer Jane Winslow inspired this recipe. She’s right: it is very good.

½ c. diced sweet potatoes [You could substitute ½ cup of diced winter squash, which lowers the calories, protein, and carbs] 2 Tbsp yellow onion, diced 1.5 oz = ¼ red pepper, sliced salt + pepper to taste ¾ tsp paprika ¼ tsp cumin ½ cup spinach, roughly chopped 3 oz black beans = 1/3 c. one 1.8-oz egg  Optional: blackish coffee [53 calories] or blackish tea or mocha cafe au lait [65 calories] or lemon in hot water   NB: no smoothie — too many calories for this recipe

Spritz olive oil in a small cast iron pan on medium heat. Add sweet potatoes, onion, red pepper, seasonings, and a little water. Cook on medium-low for 10 minutes, occasionally stirring. ALTERNATELY, you could roast these vegetables in a 400 F. oven for 10 minutes. Add spinach and 2 more Tbsp water, and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Lastly, add the black beans and stir until ingredients are well-blended. HINT: prep this far the night before. NEXT MORNINGHeat the vegetable hash in the pan before topping with a poached or fried egg. Serve in the skillet or scoop onto a plate.

Feta Nicoise Salad:  243 calories 6 g fat 2 g fiber 16 g protein 25 g carbs 244 mg Calcium  PB GF  There is a lot of food on this plate – bring your appetite.

1½ romaine leaves OR 1-1/2 cup lettuce, sliced cross-ways ¼ cup green beans 1 scant cup cucumber OR zucchini, diced 1/4 c feta cheese, crumbled or diced 2 black olives, quartered 2 Tbsp canned chick peas, rinsed 1/2 oz sourdough bread 1 tsp flavorful olive oil + 1 tsp white wine vinegar

Steam the green beans, cool and set aside. Slice the romaine crosswise into 1” strips. Prepare the other ingredients as described. Pour the oil and vinegar into a wide, shallow bowl and whisk briskly. Put all the other ingredients in the bowl and toss gently to coat with dressing. Welcome to southern France for fine dining.

Hoxne Hoard

How this Fast Diet  Lifestyle works: Eat these meals tomorrow, for a calorie total of less than 600. On another day this week, eat the meals from a different post, another day of eating 600 calories or less. Eat sensibly the other days of the week. That’s it. Simple way to lose weight and be healthier.

A detectorist, a hammer, and a mis-pronouncible location are in today’s story. The Romans occupied Britain from the rule of Claudius, 43 CE, until the fall of the Empire in the 400s CE. They built forts, baths, temples/shrines, roads, walls, and mansions. As the City of Rome was increasingly invaded by ‘barbarians,’ rule weakened in the distant provinces. England was threatened by the Saxons and the Angles, and the Roman patricians who ruled there were worried. Skip forward to December 16, 1992, in Hoxne [pronounced hox-on = what??!?!], Suffolk. A retired farmer is looking for a lost hammer using his metal detector. He scans the field and gets a signal from the device. A little digging and — this is not a hammer!! He has found an enormous trove of gold and silver objects. Authorities are alerted. The find is dug up in a huge clump with surrounding soil intact; it is dubbed the Hoxne Hoard; it is defined as ‘treasure.’ [As treasure, it is the property of traceable heirs. There were none.] The treasure had been buried by a very wealthy Roman family around 450 CE: coins, spoons, table ware, and jewelry had been packed in a wooden box. Archaeologists had a field day, the British Museum obtained a new display, and the detectorist received the value of his find as a reward. He also found the hammer.

The Romans loved figs, which they introduced to Britain, so we will have them at breakfast. The dinner should be from south of Rome, but it is as American as pineapples. Both are good meals.

Fig & Chevre Plate: 153 calories 8.4 g fat 2 g fiber 7.5 g protein 13.4 g carbs [12 g Complex] 163 mg Calcium  NB: The food values shown are for the cheese, egg, fig, and spinach, not for the optional beverages.  PB GF  Simple, elegant, and more filling than it looks. Figs and chèvre are a divine combination.

½ hard-boiled egg 1 dried fig = 0.65 oz = 16 g 1 oz chevre cheese ¼ oz baby spinach Optional: blackish coffee [53 calories] or blackish tea or mocha cafe au lait [65 calories] Optional: 5 oz fruit smoothie or berry-yogurt smoothie  [88 calories]

Rehydrate the dried fig by covering with water and microwaving or heating for 1 minute. Let the fig sit in the water for another few minutes, then cut in half. Arrange the spinach leaves in an oval. Dab the leaves with crumbles of the goat cheese. Plate the egg half and the fig halves.  HINT: I composed the plate the night before, covered it with a plastic bag, and kept it cool until breakfast. Instant breakfast!

Pineapple Pompeii: 286 calories 9.5 g fat 5 g fiber 15 g protein 40.6 g carbs 85.5 mg Calcium  PB GF This is served in South-Eastern Pennsylvania as a side dish to baked ham. The fanciful name is unique to the neighbor who gave me the recipe. I put the ham in the casserole to make a complete meal. HINT: Serves 6 as dinner.  This was a real hit at a pot-luck.

5 cups whole-grain bread cut in cubes four 2-oz eggs 1 Tbsp butter ¼ cup loosely-packed brown sugar 20 oz can crushed pineapple, drained and saving the juice 2/3 cup 3%-fat ham, cut in ¼” dice   per person: 1 side salad with beets  

Cream the butter and sugar together. Add the bread cubes and eggs to the bowl. Stir together to combine. Add the ham and drained pineapple. Stir to combine thoroughly. The batter should be moist, so you may need to add some of the drained pineapple juice to bring it to the right consistancy. Spray a 6×10” baking pan with non-stick spray and pour in the batter. Smooth it into the corners and bake at 350F for 25 minutes, until set and starting to brown on the top. Cut into 6 pieces. Serve with the Side Salad. Freeze the pieces that you don’t use today for another meal.

Ingredients for next week: Breakfast, single portion for Monday …………………………… single portion for Thursday:

1 two-oz egg + onion + fresh spinach1.5 two-oz eggs 
red bell pepper + paprikakalamata olive
sweet potato or winter squashpepperoni slice
canned black beans + cuminwinter savory herb + pear
Optional smoothieoptional smoothie
optional hot beverageoptional hot beverage

Dinner, single portion for Monday:………………………….. single portion for Thursday:

Romaine lettuce + green beanscanned baked beans + onion
Cucumber + feta cheese celery + canned stewed tomatoes
black olivesbeef stock/brown stock + tabasco sauce
Olive oil + white wine vinegaroptional: hard-boiled egg + lemon slices
Sparkling waterSparkling water